The pushback on animal testing has grown in strength over the past fifteen years, but it could be surprising how prevalent it still is. The European Union led the charge to ban testing of finished products on animals, then on the testing of ingredients, and finished by banning the importation and sale of new cosmetics tested on animals from other countries. While countries like Israel, India, and others have followed, the United States has yet to prohibit animal testing for cosmetics or household products, though has never required the practice, as some countries have.
Through many cruel and painful methods, the animals are used to test whether a product causes eye or skin irritation, burning, reproductive and developmental toxicity, and other dangerous health factors. Just to name a few, mice, rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, frogs, dogs, and cats are used in these experiments and tests, some of which can go on for as long as two years. Isolation, burning, disfigurement, cell removal, and chemical testing are just some of the processes endured by these animals in the interest of human health.
That is the goal, after all, even as misguided as the means may be. However, is it even effective? Skin allergy tests performed on guinea pigs only predicted an average of 77% of human reactions, while the rabbit skin irritation test only predicted human skin reactions 60% of the time, and it’s the same figure for tests on pregnant rats to determine chemicals or drugs’ harm on developing babies. And the two year rat study that assesses whether a substance is cancerous for humans is only correct 42% of the time.
Some of these figures may look better than nothing, however, when compared to the efficacy of alternative testing, it is proven that not only is animal testing inhumane and cruel, but not even the best at what it’s supposed to do.
There have been many developments in alternative product testing, which are often cheaper and quicker while providing more information and being of greater value. There are primarily two alternative types of testing that both include different methods. There are also of course the option of voluntary human testing, and even human-patient simulators, though those are used primarily in the industry of medical care.
One type is called in vitro testing, which uses human cells and tissue. These can be real or synthetically created human cells and tissues that undergo the tests and interact with the ingredients in question. This removes all animal testing from the process and provides more accurate results. From chips that contain human cells to be used in disease research, drug testing, and toxicity testing, to three dimensional human cell derived models that can test for burning or irritation, to specific tests done human blood cells to detect contaminants, these in vitro tests are more scientific, effective, and safe.
The other scientific alternative is the in silico model which uses advanced computer modeling techniques. These are especially useful for pharmaceuticals, to test the human body’s reaction to new drugs. There are additional computer-based techniques that are able to make estimations of hazard levels and dangerous reactions through complicated mathematics.
These methods can predict correct human reactions between 86% and 100% of the time for the same tests and reactions mentioned above. Despite the benefits and potential to exclude animal testing given their positive aspects, animal testing has still not been banned in the United States. The Federal Drug and Administration does however encourage the use of non-animal testing practices, and requests for animal testing to be done as humanely as possible if chosen by the company.
If you want to find and support companies that do not use animal testing, explore the links provided below. It’s important to be aware that some companies and products advertise “cruelty-free” or “not tested on animals” when they have in fact participated in the animal testing process in some form in the production of the product. This can be arranged through many loopholes: the final product was not tested on animals; ingredients purchased had already been tested; a third party performed the animal testing for the product. By exploring the links below you can find a list of truly cruelty free and properly advertised products. Also remember that you can purchase from the European Union and other places where animal testing is banned (however these prohibitions can be to different degrees, so it’s important to research first). Explore this list below.
By spreading awareness about the truth of animal testing, boycotting those responsible, and protesting the companies and researchers continuing to practice animal testing, perhaps the United States and the rest of the world will restrict and ban this cruel injustice.
Want to find companies that do not use animal testing? Try these three links:
Additionally, you can find the safety information of any specific ingredient here:
Find information on what countries have banned animal testing (updated 2021):